Top 10 FREE Android games for your smartphone and tablet
The Android ecosystem took a little time to get going, but now boasts over 800,000 apps, with software of every kind available on Google Play.
Naturally, a great many of these are games. Android users probably felt a little jealous of the iPhone at one point as it was receiving a steady stream of exclusives, but there’s no longer much between them, with most of the big names available on both platforms.
Android continues to offer some of the best free games, too. Hobbyist coders have found a welcome home on Google’s platform, it’s more accepting of various forms of IAP and advertising, and Android also (sadly) has a reputation for lower sales figures, leading to some developers opting for ad-supported Android ports rather than - or as well as - premium downloads.
This means Android fans can enjoy many hours of portable entertainment for absolutely nothing.
But with so much on offer, digging through the Play store to find the choice cuts can be daunting. Here are ten of our favourite free games to keep you entertained on the move.
Angry Birds (+ Star Wars, Space, Seasons, Rio)
Yeah, we’re cheating with this one by bundling all the Angry Birds titles into one entry.
Even if you have studiously avoided games until this point you’ve almost certainly heard of Angry Birds, it’s seeped into popular culture in the same way as Pac-man and Space Invaders.
The premise is straightforward: some birds are angry at some pigs for stealing their eggs, and out to get their revenge by flinging themselves at the pig’s precarious structures.
There’s no deeper meaning here, it’s just a setup for a good old fashioned catapult puzzle game. Nothing particularly original, but Angry Birds has very slick production values, great physics effects and a colourful, harmless presentation that’s suitable for players of any age.
Angry Birds Seasons and Rio are essentially level packs, but Angry Birds Star Wars uses the movie license to throw in themed levels and new abilities, while Angry Birds Space mixes up the formula by getting players to deal with gravity as the birds are launched around planets.
This is a weird but compelling little game. Starting with the basic elements of wind, water, fire and earth you have to keep combining items to create new things.
It starts off simple - fire and water makes steam, dust and water makes mud - and gets progressively sillier so you’re making molotov cocktails, vampires and vodka.
A lot of the success is random and all too often you’ll get stuck and end up combining anything and everything to advance, but it’s a nice little distraction in short bursts, and finding all 390 objects is a real challenge.
Dropwords is a spin on matching games like Bejeweled, combined with Scrabble and Boggle.
You have to form words from the grid of letters, racing against a rapidly dwindling timer to create the biggest scores. Matched letters disappear and new tiles drop from the top, with occasional score multipliers and achievements to spice things up.
There are several game modes to keep things interesting, the only thing missing is online multiplayer to give it Wordfeud levels of longevity.
Simple and incredibly addictive, Bebbled is a colour-matching puzzler where the aim is to get a high score by finding or arranging at least two pebbles of the same colour on the board.
Tapping combos clears them, and causes the other pebbles to shift down or across. The challenge comes from thinking a few moves ahead to create long chains for those big score multipliers.
The immense power of modern smartphones has allowed mobile games to move beyond simple visuals and begin incorporating advanced graphics and gameplay elements. Physics effects in particular are now being employed to create some brilliant handheld experiences.
Apparatus is reminiscent of classic puzzle game The Incredible Machine, but with a simpler premise and more challenging brain teasers.
You’ve got to get a ball into a basket by manipulating the limited number of objects on screen, with the difficulty coming from it obeying the laws of physics. The first few levels start off easy enough but it gradually becomes very tough and requires some flexible thinking to succeed, though thankfully you can test out your constructions as often as necessary until successful.
How well do you know your logos? This game relies on your memory (and the impact of advertising) by asking players to guess the company from a logo with key details removed.
There are over 800 logos in 22 categories, including technology, sports, music and health, and it’s not as easy as you’d think, even with the hints available. This is one that could keep you occupied for a very long time indeed.
With visuals that aren't a million miles from full blown console games Dead Trigger is a showcase for the power of mobile graphics chipsets.
Set in a zombie apocalypse, this first person shooter throws you up against hordes of undead armed with nothing more than an arsenal of high powered weaponry, which can be gradually upgraded as you progress.
Controlling an FPS with touch isn’t ideal, but Dead Trigger has relatively short missions so isn’t too taxing on your hands, and proves ideal for quick gaming sessions.
While the game is free, new weapons have to be paid for with gold, which is collected very slowly in-game or can be gathered at a faster pace by signing up for offers around the web using Tapjoy. It’s not essential, but you may be slightly frustrated by the slow progress otherwise.
The genius of Scrabble clone Wordfeud lies with its multiplayer capabilities which allow you to take on friends or strangers head to head.
Because it’s turn based you can tackle up to 30 different boards at once, with the game notifying you of your go when the other player is finished. In between you can taunt them via a chat room.
The basic ad-supported version is entirely free, but buying £1.99 to upgrade removes the ads and offers statistics.
The processing capabilities of smartphones have been used to craft technically impressive masterpieces, but sometimes it’s good to kick back, relax and simply enjoy the sight of a hapless crash-test dummy being pushed down the stairs.
Stair Dismount places your unfortunate victim at the top of a towering structure and allows you to choose the angle, position and power of the shove that sends them toppling. It’s a score attack game where bone-breaking impacts mean prizes, so the more obstacles you hit on the way down the better.
Part of the fun is working out the angles required to get the highest numbers and compete with other players on a global scale, but it’s also impossible not to enjoy the crunch-snap impacts (complete with icons to show exactly what’s being damaged) as your poor dummy plummets repeatedly to his doom.
The game is free to download and there’s a reasonable choice of freebie levels, but payment is required to acquire additional scenarios.
Flood-It! is a minimalist puzzle game that’s deceptively challenging and very addictive. It simply presents you with a board of coloured squares, and a row of matching colour buttons along the bottom.
To complete a level you need to fill the board with any one of these colours. But you can only advance by selecting another adjacent colour, and you’ve got a limited number of moves to flood the board, which requires some thought about your next few steps to get the maximum effect and finish in as few moves as possible.